Young leaders call for Birtukan’s unconditional release

Press Release, 6 April 2010 – Fifty-nine young leaders from around the world have collectively called on Meles Zenawi to release Birtukan Mideksa unconditionally and allow her to have access to proper medical care.

In an unprecedented open petition, the young leaders, who are widely recognized for their commitments to society and accomplishments in wide ranging fields such as business, academia, government, civic society, art and media, said that they were “very concerned over the continued human rights violations being committed against the young Ethiopian pro-democracy leader Ms. Birtukan Mideksa.”

The petition has noted that in spite of repeated appeals, Prime Minister Meles is insisting that Birtukan will serve life as she was convicted of treason and anti-state charges in a show trial. “At a time when Ethiopians are preparing for a general election, locking up the most popular and first woman leader in the country’s history casts serious doubts on the credibility and fairness of the elections,” the petitioners said.

Reminding Meles of the fact that Birtukan is recognized by Amnesty International and UN Human Rights Commission as prisoner of conscience and victim of arbitrary arrest, the petitioners expressed disquiet over recent news reports on the denial of basic medical care and visitation rights to the young Ethiopian leader despite her deteriorating physical and mental wellbeing.

“Ethiopia has incorporated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and similar international instruments in its constitution and laws. We strongly urge Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to show responsible leadership and respect for the rule of law by immediately and unconditionally releasing Birtukan Mideksa,” the petition said.

The young leaders also urged donor countries such as the United States to use their leverages to press Mr Zenawi to release Birtukan Mideksa and other prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia.

“This truly global petition is not just an appeal but a clear testimony to the fact that the world is watching human rights abuses being committed in any parts of the world. It would be wiser for Zenawi to release Birtukan rather than making her a household name around the world and expose his own folly and tyranny,” said Abebe Gellaw, who coordinated the petition drive.

“I drew the attention of these young leaders to the plight of Birtukan, a young woman who has risked her life for the sake of the holly cause of justice and freedom and everyone was clearly moved. So I did not even exert so much effort as everyone was willing to collectively act on this disturbing matter. The overwhelming response sends a clear message that no outrageous injustice passes by unnoticed,” he said.

According to Abebe, the petition was made possible while the young leaders gathered at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to attend the 2010 Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century, which is an executive education program.

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For further information, please contact coordinator of this global initiative, Abebe Gellaw, Center on Democracy Development and Rule of Law, Stanford University• Encina Hall • 616 Serra St • Stanford, CA 94305-6055

Tel: +1 650 387 4940, Fax: (650) 725-2592 email: abe.gelaw@gmail.com

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Free Birtukan Mideksa

We, the undersigned, are very concerned over the continued human rights violations being committed against the young Ethiopian pro-democracy leader Ms. Birtukan Mideksa.

Birtukan was re-arrested on December 29, 2008 in connection with a speech she made earlier to her supporters in Sweden. According to Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, 36-year old former judge and leader of the pro-democracy movement in Ethiopia, is a prisoner of conscience and victim of arbitrary arrest unjustly incarcerated because of her political views and activities.

We are also disturbed with recent news reports that Birtukan has been denied basic medical care and visitation rights despite her seriously deteriorating physical and mental wellbeing.

In spite of repeated appeals, Prime Minister Meles has been insisting that Birtukan will serve life as she was convicted of treason and anti-state charges in a show trial. At a time when Ethiopians are preparing for a general election, locking up the most popular and first woman leader in the country’s history casts serious doubts on the credibility and fairness of the elections.

Ethiopia has incorporated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and similar international instruments in its constitution and laws. We strongly urge Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to show responsible leadership and respect for the rule of law by immediately and unconditionally releasing Birtukan Mideksa.

We also urge major donor countries like the United States to use their leverage to press Prime Minister Meles to unconditionally release Birtukan Mideksa and other prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia.

April 6, 2010

1. Mr. Mohammed Bin Essa Al-Khalifa, Bahrain

2. Mr. Wilmot Allen, USA

3. Ms. Orzala Ashraf Nemat, Afghanistan

4. Mr. Cenk Aydin, Turkey

5. Dr. Fatmir Besimi, Macedonia

6. Mr. Peter Bisanz, USA

7. Ms. Nilda Bullain, Hungary

8. Mr. Luis Camargo, Colombia

9. Mr. Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada

10. Dr. Adrian Cheok, Japan

11. Mr. Funabashi Chikara, Japan

12. Ms. Yolanda Zoleka Cuba, South Africa

13. Mr. Emile Najib Cubeisy, Jordan

14. Mr. Marco De La Rosa, Venzuala

15. Mr. Hamish MacQuarie Douglass, Australia

16. Ms. Salimah Yvette Ebrahim, Canada

17. Mr. Marco Fiorese, Italy

18. Mr. Abebe Gellaw, Ethiopia

19. Mr. Yair Goldfinger, Isreal

20. Ms. Priya Karim Haji, USA

21. Mr. Abdulsalam Haykal, Syria

22. Mr. Ganhuyag Chuluun Hutagt, Mongolia

23. Mr. Vuyo Jack, South Africa

24. Ms. Munizae Jahangir, Pakistan

25. Dr. Jaeseung Jeong, South Korea

26. Mr. Ping Jia, China

27. Mr. Nik Kafka, United Kingdom

28. Ms. Verena Knaus-Nrecaj, Austria

29. Mr. Umit Ertug Kumcuoglu, Turkey

30. Mr. Siddhartha Lal, India

31. Ms. Peggy Liu, China

32. Mr. Patrick McWhinney, Canada

33. Mr. Stephan Godinho Lopes Morais, Portugal

34. Mr. Lorenzo Mendoza, Venzuala

35. Commissioner Ahmad Nadery, Afghanistan

36. Mr. Salvador Jose Paiz, Guatemala

37. Mrs. Efrat Peled, Israel

38. Ms. Jayne Plunkett, USA

39. Mr. Elias Prombo Pupesie Pungong, Cameroon

40. Mr. Sriram Raghavan, India

41. Mr. Fasel Rahman, United Kingdom

42. Mr. Allon Raiz, South Africa

43. Mrs. Aashmi Rana, Nepal

44. Ms. Kristin Denise Rechberger, USA

45. Mr. Bjarte Reve, Norway

46. Dr. Enric Sala, USA

47. Ms. Zainab Salbi, USA

48. Ms. Andrea Olivia Sanke, France

49. Mr. Bhavneet Singh, India

50. Ms. Lorna Solis, Nicaragua

51. Dr. Christoph Sutter, Switzerland

52. Mr. Kohey Takashima, Japan

53. Christopher To, Hong Kong

54. Mr. Mark C. Turrell, United Kingdom

55. Mr. Ashok Vemuri, USA

56. Mr. Andy Wales, United Kingdom

57. Mr. Jimmy Donal Wales, USA

58. Dr. Christian Wenk, Switzerland

59. Mr. Paul van Zyl, South Africa

Cc: Concerned organisations and individuals around the world

For further information, please contact coordinator of this global initiative, Abebe Gellaw, Center on Democracy Development and Rule of Law, • Encina Hall • 616 Serra St • Stanford, CA 94305-6055

Tel: +1 650 387 4940, Fax: (650) 725-2592 email: abe.gelaw@gmail.com

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